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App development tools have begun to incorporate updated guidelines to help disabled individuals access the virtual world.
The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which came out of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI), set standards for web accessibility. The latest version, WCAG 2.1, addresses requirements for building mobile apps and websites for people with various disabilities.
In June, WAI released WCAG 2.1, which adds 17 requirements. In October, Progress released its latest version of Kendo UI, Kendo UI R3 2018, which incorporates all of those requirements, said Carl Bergenhem, product manager for Kendo UI at Progress, based in Bedford, Mass. The tool set helps developers build apps that are accessible, without having to write any additional code, he said.
"They have compliance to the WCAG standard baked into their product," said Bekah Rice, a Kendo UI user and an interactive designer and front-end developer at True Matter LLC, a usability consultancy in West Columbia, S.C.
But the product doesn't solve every potential accessibility issue.
"Kendo provides components that make up your application, but anything else that you build or add still has to be accessible," Rice said.
True Matter looks to third-party tools such as Kendo UI to save time and increase productivity.
"It allows us to have a toolbox that lets us know what we can and cannot do," Rice said. "It's a huge timesaver, and it is a big help with testing. I used to have to test sites page by page using a screen reader. But, with Kendo, we don't have to screen-read everything that we build."
An accessibility movement
Bekah Riceinteractive designer, True Matter
Progress Software sees demand for accessibility tools, especially from organizations required by law to comply with the standards -- financial institutions, banks and government organizations.
"They want to keep up with the modern look and feel that consumers have come to expect from today's applications, while they also must comply with these standards," Bergenhem said.
Kendo UI aids Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) development, which defines accessibility requirements to build dynamic content and user interface components.
"Usability is our thing, and that means enhancing the user experience for users that are hard of hearing, low vision, deaf, blind or anything," Rice said, with regard to ARIA.
Accessibility is a huge deal for True Matter, which provides user experience strategy to clients across a variety of industries, Rice said. Government sites are required to comply with the WCAG standards, and banks and other financial institutions are following suit, she said.